An emotional embrace during the Supreme Counselling for Personal Development 2018 graduation ceremony became a defining moment of this mentorship organization which has seen over a thousand children pass through its programmes.
When Margo Wilkinson-King was called to the front at the Accra Beach Hotel Resort Saturday evening to accept one of the four ‘Committed Parent’ awards she broke into tears after being hugged by SCPD Chief Executive Shawn Clarke, and had to be accompanied off the stage by her graduating and special award-winning grandson, David Clarke.
Wilkinson-King’s expressive interaction on stage prompted the evening’s guest speaker, Education Minister Santia Bradshaw to describe it as “the essence of what Supreme Counselling means to not just the children but to the parents and the grand-parents and indeed the guardians of many of you who have come through this programme”.
She said that the grandmother’s emotions help us “recognise that even with all the best efforts parents may make sometimes, there are also times when you actually need somebody else to help you raise your children”.
Since 2009, SCPD has been mentoring deviance-prone children whose behaviour caused them to be recommended by their schools, taken in by parents or guardians, or volunteer themselves for tutoring on how to face challenges of society.
This organisation describes itself as “a non-profit, voluntary, non-governmental organization which is a community-based, non-residential (out-patient) programme with a focus on crisis intervention. It maintains a commitment to education, counselling and mentorship services for persons experiencing substance abuse, family and behavioural problems and other issues that may arise within the community”.
Bradshaw, who said she needed to engage SPCD years ago in her St Michael South East constituency, because of the shortcomings of some in the community, described its work as ‘commendable’ and ‘laudable’.
“One of the things that drew me to Shawn Clarke at the time was ongoing interest that he and his team took in the lives of the young people.”
Suggesting that, “perhaps this programme has not been given the recognition that it deserves,” she said, “as Minister of Education I will do my level best to ensure that Supreme Counselling and its programmes are not just a part of the system for a few schools in this country, but that we are able to recognize that this programme is necessary for the personal development of our young people across the entire school system”.
SCPD offers individual and group counselling in Anger Management, Conflict Resolution, Self-Esteem Building, Self-Awareness, Career Planning, Behavioural Modification, Gender Issues, Drug Addiction, Family Relations, Deviancy/Misconduct, Depression, Family Violence, Literacy and Educational Development, and House Visits.
A graduate of this programme, Rheann Hunte, who entered at age 11 and went through the five years of mentorship, told the gathering, “I had to work on my anger and my rude attitude… eventually, my behaviour changed and my grades started to improve. I was able to graduate from the Coleridge and Parry school with seven CXC passes.”
Now working while attending the Barbados Community College, she said the programme, “taught me life skills that I am using up to this day and that will be important for me to keep and use throughout my life”.
“You began this supreme journey as children but you are leaving as young adults,” CEO Clarke said to his charges. “You have completed a course of self-development and self-improvement education that will serve as a platform to launch you into the future.”
With the successes behind it, this child mentorship programme appears set to meet new horizons with a formal push of the Education Ministry.
“I share a similar passion as he [Shawn Clarke] does in relation to the interventions that are necessary for our education system,” Bradshaw said as she pledged support.